Careers in Administrative Assistance

Administrative assistants can work in a variety of industries, ranging from schools to medical, legal, and government offices. Individuals working as administrative assistants are typically in charge of clerical and organizational tasks around the office. This can include paper and electronic recordkeeping, mail distribution and management, data entry, word processing, filing, answering phones and emails, ordering supplies, and other office management tasks.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment opportunities for administrative assistants are expected to grow by 12% in the coming decade. This is on par with the average expected growth for all jobs. However, the predicted growth rate for medical administrative assistants is significantly higher with a 41% increase expected from 2010 to 2020. On the other hand, the growth rate for legal secretaries is expected to be only about 4%, due to slow growth in the legal industry as a whole.

In May 2010, the median annual wage for administrative assistants was $34,660 according to the BLS. Executive secretaries earned the highest median annual wage at $43,520 that same year. However, please note actual salaries can vary based on your education, level of experience, location, the type of employer, and the general job climate.

Required Education for Administrative Assisting

Many administrative assistant positions only require a high school diploma or equivalent and basic computer, communication, and organizational skills. However, individuals seeking employment in competitive or specialized industries may benefit from certificate or associate degree programs. For example, legal or medical secretaries will need to understand the terminology and procedures used in the field to fulfill their job duties. In addition, introductory courses in business communication and composition can be beneficial for administrative assistants in all industries.

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer a business administration degree or a medical or legal secretary training program at the certificate or associate degree level. Business degrees and related training programs are ideal for those interested in pursuing careers as administrative assistants. For those already working in the field, there are a number of online college degrees available as well.

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